Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The White House Finally Takes an Actual STAND on Something That Was Not Dictated by Tim Geithner or the National Security Brotherhood. And It’s the Ethical Position in the Controversy, to Boot!

 

This isn’t trivial. One of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met was a waggly-tailed white pit bull that a neighbor of a friend of mine found roaming the street. As soon as the sweetie saw you approaching, she’d wag her tail excitedly and then lie down on her back to invite you to rub her belly.

These dog-breed-ban statutes are abominable.  Now, a Tim-Geithner -White-House-ban statute would be another thing entirely. Maybe when Congress returns after Labor Day?

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Tax Court Rejects Geithner/Turbo Tax Defense

From Tax Prof blog:

Tax Court Rejects Geithner/Turbo Tax Defense

Bartlett v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2012-254 (Sept. 4, 2012):

Petitioner admits that her income was misreported and that her taxable income was underreported. She maintains that she reported all of her income and that the mistakes made were “honest mistakes” resulting from her lack of familiarity with the TurboTax program. Petitioner claims she used the audit portion of the TurboTax program, believing the audit portion would catch any mistakes she otherwise might make. …
It is apparent that a portion of the information petitioner entered into the TurboTax program was incorrect; hence the mistakes made (which resulted in the underpayment) were made by petitioner, not TurboTax. TurboTax is only as good as the information entered into its software program. See Bunney v. Commissioner, 114 T.C. 259, 267 (2000). Simply put: garbage in, garbage out.

You can find a history of links to posts on the issue at Tax Prof.

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2012 = 2006?

It’s not just that you make a mistake; it’s that you cling desperately to that mistake and let it define you.

Katrina revealed George W. Bush’s basic incompetence in a way that 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq had not. So he was weak going into the 2006 midterms. There were going to be losses. No one who wasn’t being paid to say otherwise thought there were not going to be some losses.

And you have to assume that some people thought those losses would be smaller: they got rid of “Brownie,” made a lot of noise about “Katrina and Rita,” put Hayley Barbour on television as often as they could, talking about how Mississippi was rebuilt.

Damage control.

The problem was that one failure got people to look at other failures. And the sacrifices didn’t come from there.



After the 2006 election, Donald Rumsfeld resigned. There were rumors it might happen before then, but it didn’t.

A few weeks ago, going into the Wisconsin recall elections, there were rumors that Tim Geithner would resign.

That’s not going to be true now. So Barack Obama is going to go into a re-election campaign running what John Hempton astutely described as “the cravenly pro-finance Obama administration.”

Not pro-economy: that would involve employment and GDP growth, neither of which has been happening for so long that Sensible Centrist Brad DeLong is sounding more and more and more like me.

The center isn’t holding. Every pictures tells the same story.





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Push Him! Push Him!

I was taking the day off, but this is the best news the Obama Administration could get right now.* Wonder how they’ll screw it up?

I second the (self-)nomination of Dr. Black, on condition he commit to bringing me on as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Markets, which was held in its Glory Days by a former boss of mine.**

*It also stands as yet another reason for Republicans to delay any agreement on the debt ceiling, since he would likely be replaced by a Democrat.

**I, in turn, will promise to get my tax difficulties with NY State straightened out.*** Since the current T-Sec had much more recurrent and lasting issues, I don’t see this as a problem for confirmation, should such be required.

***They are the direct result on my current firm having accidentally, I presume, input my Social Security number into their system with “fat fingers.”

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…abandon claims that they had been sold trash

Via Benzinga, L. Randall Wray notes more of the same for socializing the costs of our financial woes:

In truly depressing news, Secretary Treasury Geithner announced he was funneling $2.8 billion more bail-out funds to Bank of America. In the deal, Fannie and Freddie would agree to abandon claims that they had been sold trash in fraudulent “mortgage backed securities” by the BofA. (A similar deal was provided to Ally Financial.)

As I have written, holders of the securities have gradually realized that the securitizations did not meet the “reps and warranties” asserted by the banks that pooled mortgages. A growing number of investors have demanded that the originating banks take back the fraudulent securities, including Fannie and Freddie, as well as the NYFed and PIMCO. But true to form, Timmy prefers to backstop the control fraud banks rather than forcing them to bear the costs of their frauds.

The actual losses that Freddie and Fannie will take on the toxic waste sold to them by Countrywide (absorbed by Bank of America, which is now responsible for the put-backs) will undoubtedly be much larger than the $2.8 billion they received in the settlement. And guess who will suffer that extra loss? You betcha: Uncle Sam. As always, Geithner instinctively socializes losses to protect Wall Street’s private bonuses.

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He Gave at the Office

What Treasury under Geither does, according to the Washington Post:

“I think we are known as the front line,” said [Michael] Pedroni, 38, a former International Monetary Fund economist and Federal Reserve Bank of New York employee who has spent time at a Wall Street research firm. “Our analysis is meant to be very candid, very quick, very unvarnished.”

Fortunately, he left the FRB NY before Geithner did, so it’s not a question of nepotism, just the finance perspective.

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Fire Tim Geithner. Then Be a One-Term President.

I doubt even the Internet’s self-appointed Chief Geithner Apologist will be foolish enough to stand by him after this piece of shite:

Some people just don’t like movies with happy endings. How else to explain this week’s report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP)? Rather than focusing on the growing evidence we’ve seen in recent months that TARP will be far less costly than anyone expected, SIGTARP instead sought to generate a false controversy over AIG to try and grab a few, cheap headlines.

There are no “facts” in that paragraph, and there is no excuse for this coming from Treasury. Ignore that Treasury is deliberately including selling off its expected future value as part of its “break-even” calculation. Ignore that Treasury’s practice has been to count “TARP” (the first effort) as the only Government Subsidy to those institutions that have “paid back” their loans by ramping up debt and refusing to be “financial intermediaries” [Link updated] which was the half-assed justification for giving them that money in the first place. Ignore the billions of dollars of asset guarantees from the Fed that are still the only reason people pretend The Big C is solvent.

What we have is the Department of the Treasury impugning the purpose and the office of the Special Inspector General for TARP, that is the office charged with

the responsibility, among other things, to conduct, supervise and coordinate audits and investigations of the purchase, management and sale of assets under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”). SIGTARP’s goal is to promote economic stability by assiduously protecting the interests of those who fund the TARP programs – i.e., the American taxpayers. This is achieved by facilitating transparency in TARP programs, providing effective oversight in coordination with other relevant oversight bodies, and through robust criminal and civil enforcement against those, whether inside or outside of Government, who waste, steal or abuse TARP funds. [emphasis mine]

If Tim Geithner wants to whine that someone doesn’t believe his lies, he’s welcome to do so—as a private citizen, reaping the fruits of his last few years fellating Goldman Sachs by accepting the Senior Management position that surely awaits him.

And he should do so sooner, not later.

And, by the way, Barry: you should request and then accept his resignation. Because only the thought of Joe Biden (Sen-MBNA/BofA) as President keeps me from pointing out that such releases are your responsibility, sent out as part of whitehouse.gov. Enjoy your next two years, and the Palin/Huckabee Presidency you will have wrought.

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I Told You So

Robert Waldmann is pleased to note that he was right and that Paul Krugman and Joeseph Stiglitz were wrongggg. They claimed that PPIP was a huge giveaway, because purchases of toxic assets would be 85% financed by no-recourse loans from the FDIC. I noted that this financing would only be available if the FDIC (not just Treasury) agreed, and that the FDIC had no intention of being taken to the cleaners.

Now I read that, so far, PPIP has generated a 36% annual return for the Treasury. That’s not the point. The point is that it has generated approximately no profit or loss for the FDIC, because the FDIC refused to be played for suckers. They key sentence is

The Treasury is an equal equity partner in each of the funds and provided debt financing for the $29.4 billion program.

Note that the acronym FDIC doesn’t appear.

*Sorry for the brief uninformative title. I foolishly precommitted to the title:

OK so Masaccio is a great painter but I don’t know if he is right about the final outcome of the legacy loan portion of the Geithner plan. If he is I will write a post entitled “I Told You So.”

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Senate passes HR 4173 finance reform conference report

by Linda Beale
crossposted with Ataxingmatter

Senate passes HR 4173 finance reform conference report
[updated to add information on Geithner’s opposition to Warren 7:12 pm]

On a 60-39 vote, the US Senate passed the Dodd-Frank H.R. 4173 financial reform conference report today. While the bill imposes some new restrictions and creates a consumer protection agency, most of the impact will come (if it comes) through regulation as the new systemic risk council oversees bank issues and decides whether activities of banks pose sufficient risk to be regulated or eliminated. Capital requirements and leverage requirements, for example, are not directly set in the bill. The US is likely to settle with the capital and leverage standards set by Basle III, the discussions going on now at the Bank for International Settlements regarding updating of the 2004 standards. In those talks, thje banks lobbying are making inroads on the fairly tough standards originally proposed in December, as officials yield to fears (cited by the banks) that tough capital and leverage requirements will dampen the economic revival. See, e.g., Damian Paletta and David Enrich, Banks Gain in Rules Debate: Regulators Seen Diluting Strictest New ‘Basel’ Curbs; Credit Crunch Fears Remain, Wall St. Journal, July 15, 2010, at A1.

Query whether we have learned anything from this crisis at all. Officials remain at the mercy of banks–bailing them out, providing cheap cost of funds through implicit and explicit guarantees, and letting, even encouraging, them to get back to the old securitization games that allowed them to generate liquid and easy credit without adhering to prudential banking standards since the lender was not the one holding on to the loans over the long term. Banks argue for remaining entangled with their profitable proprietary trading and derivatives businesses, since they know that the synergies of being able to use cheap depositor funding for their investment-banking activities means high profits for them, even if it may mean socialization of losses down the road. See Simon Nixon, Barclays Capped by Regulatory Risk, Wall St. J., July 13, 2010, at C10

Interestingly, Tim Geithner has come out against having Elizabeth Warren appointed as head of the new consumer protection agency created by the reform bill. Nasiripour, Tim Geithner Opposes Nominating Warren to Head new Consumer Agency, Huffington Post, Jul. 15, 2010. Having watched Prof. Warren in action and read the scathingly honest output of her term at the head of the bailout watchdog commission, I can’t think of a better person to head the agency. One suspects that Geithner is concerned about a gradual erosion of the power of the Wall Street clique (Geithner, Summers and Bernancke) with the forceful Warren on the job with the ear of the President. Personally, I think that power needs to be eroded, so Geithner’s concern makes Warren an even better choice.

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AIG, Logic, Insanity, and Tim "I Saw Nothing" Geithner

Go read:

  1. If you’re only reading one post, see FT Alphaville, which incorporates and expands upon…
  2. Tom Adams and Yves Smith’s posting at Naked Capitalism discussing the document and the reality of the situtation.
  3. the document itself is available from either The Long Room or the Huffington Post.

If the FRB of NY really believed that their only option was payment in full and not telling anyone about it, then Tim Geithner’s leadership abilities make Ben Bernanke look like Dwight Eisenhower.

BarryO is, apparently, finally trying to make clear the distinctions between TARP, TLGF, TALF, CPLF, Maiden Lane, Maiden Lane II, Maiden Lane III, etc. and the actual Stimulus Package. A good place to start: One was a huge giveaway that has led to overreported profits and high taxpayer expenses. The other was passed by Congress.

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